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Colleges across the US seeing decline in enrollment; QC college sees that effect

Statistics from the National Student Clearinghouse shows U.S. college enrollment has dropped 8% from 2019 to 2022

MOLINE, Ill. — A nationwide study shows colleges and universities across the U.S. are struggling with enrollment.

News 8's Charles Hart spoke with Amber Schultz, Western Illinois University's vice president for enrollment management, who said the Moline campus has been competing with the workforce for years.

"Students are looking at their options and thinking, you know, maybe getting a job right away after high school is a great idea as opposed to going to college right away," Schultz said. "And so we're trying to talk with students trying to work with high school counselors, trying to help everyone just figure out what's the best right fit for them."

Schultz said she has around 1,000 students right now at the Quad Cities campus. She also said WIU-QC has seen stable numbers over the past several years, despite numbers still being low.

"There are fewer high school age students, there's fewer people moving through the pipeline," Schultz said.

According to the National Student Clearinghouse, from 2019 to 2022, undergraduate enrollment dropped 8% nationwide, even with students returning to the classroom post-COVID. 

National statistics show things could improve because the number of freshmen enrolling at colleges in the U.S. has slightly gone up since 2021, but those numbers are still well below pre-COVID levels. 

In the Quad Cities, Schultz said they've already increased they're engineering offerings, but have not gone into the trade area. 

"Western Illinois University is also talking about how do we remain relevant to those students who opt to go into the workforce right away after high school," Schultz said.

According to data from Georgetown University, people who decide to skip college could earn less money in their jobs compared to people with college degrees.

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